SOAR WITH DUMBO!
- By Alex Brown
- Photos Courtesy of Disney
One of my fondest memories as a child was when we got to go to the movies. It was a magical place where anything was possible, and where the real world melted away as the lights dimmed. And every summer when we visited my grandparents we would make a trip down the street to the drive in. Looking back now, the sound was terrible, the screen was dirty, and the ability to focus on the film was nowhere to found. But even so, it was a treat.
I experienced my first taste of movie magic at that drive-in, and among these memories one movie stands out above most of the others—Dumbo. A delightful film about self-acceptance and love, it taught me that sometimes the things we like the least about ourselves end up being our strengths and what makes us unique. A meaningful lesson for any child, and soon kids of all ages will be reminded of that important self-love when Disney releases a live-action version of the 1941 classic on March 29. But hold on to your peanuts, ‘cause this will not be your grandparents’ Dumbo.
The making of the film was announced in 2014, and shortly thereafter Disney brought on none other than the king of visual storytelling, Tim Burton himself. A master of stunning effects and jaw dropping design, Burton is bringing our favorite big-eared pachyderm to life in what is sure to become a new classic.
In the original tale Dumbo—actually named Jumbo Jr. but ridiculed as “Dumbo” (as in “dumb”) by the other kids—finds himself on his own after his mother gets locked away for defending him against some tormenting circus goers. Abandoned and lonely, Dumbo gets befriended by a mouse named Timothy who takes pity on the little guy. After accidentally getting into some spilled champagne, Timothy and Dumbo finds themselves in a tree. Determining that the only way they got up there was because Dumbo could fly, Timothy and a murder of crows convince Dumbo he can do it again—and he does! The rest of the film follows his ascent to stardom in the circus, eventually reuniting with his mother and riding a private circus-train car into the proverbial sunset.
While the new film does make some substitutions—like swapping in a well-meaning family of humans for Timothy the mouse—it stays true to its original story, but in a dazzling new format that only Burton can conjure. And while other Disney live-action releases are getting some heat, Dumbo seems to only be gaining steam.
Helping Burton bring the story to life is the screenplay written by Ehren Kruger (all three Transformers franchise films and television’s The Brother Grimm), and a cast that showcases some megastars of its own.
Playing Holt Ferrier, a one-armed veteran returning from war, Colin Farrell heats up the screen in a role audiences are certain to fall for. A father of two, Ferrier’s children Milly and Joe (Nico Parker and Finely Hobbins, respectively) discover Dumbo can fly. When V. A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton,) a ruthless entrepreneur, discovers Dumbo’s ability, he is determined to exploit our little friend’s ability to soar. Joining in the action is Collette Marchant (Eva Green of Casino Royale and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito), and Wall Street tycoon J. Griffin Remington (Alan Arkin).
Not lost in all of the stardust and on-screen effects is the core message of the film—accept and cherish yourself for everything that makes you different. In a world obsessed with perfection, where we are constantly bombarded on social media and everywhere else with the unrealistic expectations of others, it is important to remember that we are all special. And whether you are 5 or 105, it is a lesson we should all take a moment to learn or remember.
“Dumbo” opens nationwide on March 29th.